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Hope Shores new executive director focused on ‘access’ for sexual abuse survivors

ALPENA, Mich. — Hope Shores Alliance has a new executive director. She’s a familiar face working to end domestic sexual violence, dating violence and stalking in our community. This is Valerie Williams’ second time working for the agency. The new director worked at Hope Shores for 10 years, took a break, and returned as its new executive this week.

Williams says she’s focused on increasing awareness and resources to survivors. She says about 1 in 3 women nationally will experience sexual assault or domestic violence  on behalf of an intimate partner.

“What we also know is that when you have such a pervasive crime, access to services is really difficult,” says Williams. “A lot of people live far out, you know, outside of a city limit, outside of a township — even where any of our offices are. So creating greater access points to address and alleviate that problem” is important to the agency’s mission.

More people in Hope Shores’ five-county coverage area may need help than what current data reveals. Williams says outreach services have only been around for about 40 years. For example, safe houses and spaces for survivors to receive counseling on sexual abuse.

“Even then — 40 years ago — the services didn’t look like what they look like now,” says the executive director. “I believe we started in a church basement, so there may have been a church basement where we could fit a few people. But now, we have the capacity to serve five and six families. That’s a big difference today. We’ve grown. Being that it’s Women’s History Month, I guess I like to reflect on that.”

About 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female and 9% are male, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Hope Shores Alliance offers a 24/7 help and support line. The number is 1–800–396–9129. Services and resources are free.